Federal students loan pause affected more than 2 million New Yorkers

by Abdulhaqq Obisesan Oladimeji

More than 2 million New York student loan borrowers are among the 43 million people nationwide benefiting from the Biden administration’s extension of the pandemic pause on student loan payments.

“Students can really give back the money in time and it gives them more time to get a job or get a means of getting the money back,” said Miriam Mendez, a student at City College.

Biden’s fourth extension of the freeze takes the resumption of payments from May 1 to Sept. 1.

Interest rates on the $1.3 trillion dollars in federal student loan debt will stay at zero percent for the pause. But some say Biden should make good on campaign promises and cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt for all borrowers.

“I don’t think it’s enough I think it’s enough to placate a lot of the Democrats on the left. But for a lot of the people who are hoping for his campaign mission to actually come true, it’s kind of lukewarm and doesn’t send the right message, in my opinion,” said Mujtaba Khan, a student at NYU.

Advocates — like the Student Debt Crisis Center, a non-profit organization working to end the student debt crisis, — say pausing payments again is a temporary but welcome move.

Executive Director Cody Hounanian says the group polled 23,000 borrowers and found nine out of 10 were not financially ready to restart payments on May 1.

“We knew that borrowers were not ready, but unfortunately, what this plan does is kick these issues down the road,” Hounanian said. “And we expect when we get to the end of August to be facing another set of fears and concerns as borrowers still struggle to get back on their feet, facing the shocks of the pandemic and also now inflation as well. So we call for more extension.”

Republicans in Congress have expressed concerns. According to reports from the Department of Education, the pause has cost the government more than than $100 billion dollars in unpaid interest.

The Biden administration said it has not ruled out cancelling student loan debt broadly.

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